The Kronos Quartet is, IMO, one of the most eclectic and accomplished string ensembles of the last 100 years. I can't think of one recording they've done that was not of high performance standards (and most also have excellent audio quality), although I'd readily concede that not every release will appeal to every listener. Two of my personal favorites of theirs are:
1. "Pieces of Africa";
2. "Kronos Quartet Plays the Music of Bill Evans" (or wording close to that).
I'll second "Pieces of Africa!" Also their tango record w/ Astor Piazzola (sp?) is fun. You can't really go wrong.
they have an interesting album called "black angels" that includes a stirring rendition of shostakovitch's string quartet no. 8. as the title would suggest, it's a very dark album, but the playing is quite good.
Anyone know if these are on vinyl?
My all-time favorite Kronos CD is *Piano and String Quartet* by the Kronos (of course) and a Japanese pianist whose name escapes me (can't put my hands on the CD right now). This is a Nonesuch release, and it was my introduction to both the Kronos SQ and Morton Feldman. The music is like none other -- absolutely sublime. Good for late evening listening - - - but it may not be everyone's cup of tea. Any other Feldman fans out there?
Kronos Quarted were involved in the soundtrack to "Requiem for a Dream"
Easily the most disturbing movie ever made, and thier work did an amazing job of setting the mood and atmosphere of the movie. In fact, i think the music is one of the apects that made the movie so stunning, and it deinatly leaves a lasting imprint on your mind.
If you get a chance, pick up the soundtrack for this movie, awesome music, it just grabs a hold of you and wont let go. Kinda like the movie. I really dont normally go for soundtracks, but this one i can just sit and listen to.
Better yet, get the movie too, and dont be suprised when it stays in your head weeks after you see it.
My favorite is the Phillip Glass soundtrack to the movie "Mishima", that the Kronos Quartet plays on.
Very good on CD, but not sure if it is available on vinyl. But now that I think about it, I will now look for it on that medium, as my turntable is now better than my CD player.
If you get a chance to see them live, do it. They were fantastic when I saw them about 10 years ago.
If you are in the mood for some dark emotional music look for "Henryk Gorecki" String Quartets , Already It Is Dusk, No. 1, Op. 62, Quasi una Fantasia, No. 2, Op. 64 on Electra Nonesuch 9793192.
They did a recording on Reference Recordings called In Formation. An audio buddy of mine has it on 45 rpm vinyl and, boy, is it stunning.
Philip Glass String Quartets (Nonesuch 79356). Includes quartets 2, 3, 4, and 5. Quartet No 3 has the Mishima film music, mentioned earlier, though it is not the soundtrack.
Thanks everyone! What a great response to my question. I've ordered "Pieces of Africa" and "Piano and String Quartet" for starters. I recall "Requiem for a Dream" as an amazing film with extremely effective music, so that may be on the short list.
They have kind of a best of called Released. Since their albums tend to be themed in sound, it might be a good starting point. (ie, if you like the sound of a song, you'll probably like the album it came on.)
Their new Mexican album is cool.
(I thought Kids was far more disturbing thean RfaD, but what do I knw?)
Also on Nonesuch there's Kronos plays Alphred Schnittke with nice book that you will find very interesting to read especially when listening to CD itself.
Thanks Tvad, I just dusted off my Kronos Pieces of Africa cd and am enjoying it at this moment. A talented group indeed.
I wonder if You folks who like the Kronos Quartet may also enjoy the work of a lesser known group called "The Rachels". Perhaps a bit more Avant Garde and even less predictable than Kronos. I enjoy their albums that were recently introduced to me by a friend, one called "Selenography" and "Systems/Layers". Not sure why they remind me of Kronos, but somehow they do. The Rachels are a much larger ensemble (I think 10 members). Take Kronos and add a bit of Eno, a dash of Gavin Bryars, a splash of Laurie Anderson, perhaps a pinch of the Hillard Ensemble, and a few others I'm not thinking of right now, and there you have yourself "The Rachels". Or maybe not........
...and than you may want to go and check Keith Tippett 50-piece band to get a real feeling of avant-garde.
not sure if available on CD but I have one of few hundreds of prints available in this world...
A bit off the beaten track but definately worth tracking down (perhaps as a download) is the song "Rose Marie" from Don Walser's album, "Down at the Sku-Vu Drive-In." Kronos plays behind Walser on this cut, and the combination of avant-garde and old-school country results in a truly beautiful and moving song, definately a sum greater than its parts.